BAGAMAN may tatlong koponan na ipinalalagay na title contenders sa 84th season ng UAAP men’s basketball tournament, walang dudang ang Ateneo de Manila University ang liyamado kung pag-uusapan ang lakas ng koponan.
Nagkakaisa sina Adamson University’s Nash Racela, National University’s Jeff Napa, De La Salle University’s Derrick Pumaren, Jack Santiago ng University of the East, UP’s Goldwyn Monteverde, at Far Eastern University’s Olsen Racela sa pagsasabing ang four-peat seeking Ateneo pa rin ang paboritong mananalo ng titulo.
Ang Blue Eagles ay pangungunahan nina Gilas Pilipinas naturalized player Angelo Kouame, gutsy guard SJ Belangel, Dave Ildefonso, shooter Tyler Tio, two-way cager Gian Mamuyac, at veteran Raffy Verano.
Si multi-titled mentor Tab Baldwin ang muling gagabay sa Katipunan-based squad.
Sa pagkakaroon ng mga bagong player sa kanilang lineup, sinabi ng foreign coach na tinatrabaho pa rin nila ang chemistry ng koponan dahil maraming binago ang COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re going into the season trying to be cohesive. We don’t know a lot about our opponents because of a lack of pre-season games and I think that’s a disadvantage. But I also think that every team has to adjust to the same thing. At the end of the day, there’s a lot of unknown as we start this season and it’s a whole new experience for the teams and the fans,” aniya sa isang press conference Wednesday.
Sisimulan ng Ateneo ang title-retention bid nito kontra University of the Philippines sa March 26 sa Mall of Asia Arena sa Pasay City.
Ang dalawang iba pang title-contender teams ay ang UP at Far Eastern University.